Last week’s 10th Annual Best of the Coast Issue profiled the area’s crème of the crop—the very finest in community, entertainment, retail, food and services, according to over 12,500 Best of the Coast voters. The winners get to hold, for the year, the title and bragging rights until next year’s Best of the Coast voting season begins. Congratulations again to all of our 2010 Best of the Coast winners.
Sometimes, the margin for Best of the Coast winners is just a few votes—and we think that the top finishers deserve a little recognition, too! Our “Rest of the Best” section profiles some of this year’s Runners Up—fantastic businesses in our area that have built solid reputations and loyal fan bases. Some are new to Best of the Coast, while others have a long history of top finishes. They all, however, are loved by IN readers.
Being a top finisher in Best of the Coast is a bragging right in and of itself, considering the thousands of new and established restaurants, bars, retail shops and other local businesses our Runners Up were up against.
Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t encourage some healthy, old-fashioned competition. 2010 Winners: Keep up your fantastic customer service, high-quality products and top-notch services. IN readers have a lot of favorites who would love to end up on top in 2011…
Top 3 Finish: Best Local Grassroots Movement/Group
Emerald Coastkeeper, Inc. was created in 1999 by environmentalists Mike Papantonio, Hiram Eastland and Steve Bozeman, with a mission to “respond to citizen reports of pollution and adverse environmental impacts, followed by reporting permit violations and holding governmental representatives accountable for protecting our watershed.” Since its inception, Emerald Coastkeeper has investigated Champion Paper Mill (International Paper), Jefferson Smurfit-Stone Corporation, offshore drilling, Solutia (mixing zones in Escambia River), ECUA sewage spills, among others. Most recently, the organization and Coastkeeper Chasidy Fisher Hobbs have been on the front lines of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, helping to educate the public about the issue and minimize risk to our community.
PENSACOLA ICE FLYERS
Top 3 Finish: Best Local Sports Team
Just because we live in Florida doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a little winter sport. The Pensacola Ice Flyers are back and are gaining fans and wins with each appearance. IN readers cite the beer, fights, hot players and the Chuck-a-Puck promotion as their favorite reasons to attend the games. Check it out for yourself. It’s fun, it’s cheap, and it beats the heat.
Winner: Best 24-Hour Gym
Top 3 Finish: Best Gym Overall
It’s sometimes hard to find time to work out, but convenience is key at Anytime Fitness. The franchise offers new, top-notch gym equipment that’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so whether you’re an early bird or night owl, any time can be workout time. The gym also offers affordable training sessions if you need a little guidance with your fitness routine.
BAPTIST HEALTH CARE
Winner: Best Place to Work
Top 3 Finish: Best Hospital
Baptist Health Care has won over Best of the Coast voters for the second straight year. Baptist is a community-owned, not-for-profit health care organization serving Northwest Florida and South Alabama. The organization is nationally recognized for performance excellence and quality achievement, and consistently ranks in the 99th percentile for patient satisfaction as recognized by Press Ganey.
Baptist Health Care includes four hospitals, two medical parks, Baptist Manor, Baptist Home Health Care and Durable Medical Equipment, Baptist Leadership Group, Andrews Institute for Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine and Lakeview Center. With more than 5,000 employees, Baptist Health Care is the largest non-governmental employer in Northwest Florida, and it looks like its employees are happy to be there.
Top 3 Finishes: Best Caterer, Best Wedding Caterer
With over 19 years of experience in the industry, owner Mike DeSorbo and his staff provide catering services for all types of events from family brunches to corporate lunches, served meals to buffets, small deliveries to large receptions, and more. You can choose from a large variety of dinner, cocktail or theme menu options, or Culinary Productions can customize a menu for you. Plus, Culinary Productions is a full-service catering company that can take care of all the arrangements for your event, such as ordering rentals, managing bar services, coordinating with other providers, and handling setup and cleanup of the party site. Check out their website, culinaryproductions.net, for details on their special events like Gourmet Dinner Nights, and services they’ll be offering soon, such as weekly Gourmet Dinners To-Go.
DR. KEVIN WELCH
Winner: Best Skin Care Overall
Top 3 Finish: Best Beauty Products
Dr. Kevin Welch of The Skin Care Center has once again been voted by our readers as the best skin care provider on the Gulf Coast. Dr. Welch and his staff offer the latest in facial rejuvenation treatments such as Botox, Dysport, Thermage, IPL, Restylane, Juvederm, acid peels, microdermabrasion, and more. The office also offers an array of top-quality skincare products to address dermatological issues ranging from sunspots to scarring to wrinkles, including Obagi, Kinerase, Jane Iredale and Tilley Hats, among others. Dr. Welch is a member of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology & Aesthetic Surgery as well as one of only 200 Platinum Plus Injectors of Botox in the United States.
FIXED ON FITNESS BOOT CAMP
Winner: Best Non-Gym Workout
Three years ago, Josh and Kenzie Presnell wanted to bend the traditional workout routine and create a system that could excite those who were tired of the gym. What they came up with was a six-week, outdoor boot camp that involves a variety of exercises and a personalized approach, where campers are side-by-side four days a week and can help motivate one another to work harder to reach fitness goals. It looks like IN readers have felt the burn.
Winner: Best Law Firm
Over the past 25 years, Levin Papantonio has received more than 75 jury verdicts in the amount of $1 million or more, including 12 jury verdicts in excess of $10 million and two in excess of $450 million. Additionally, the firm’s total settlements have exceeded $1 billion dollars. In its July 2002 edition, the National Law Journal recognized Levin Papantonio as the fourth most successful law firm in America based on total jury verdicts.
Top 3 Finish: Best Massage
Massage Envy opened its Pensacola location last year and has gained loyal clients—and IN readers—since then. Massage Envy and their more than 15 certified massage therapists help busy people fit massage into their wellness programs, with convenient hours (they’re open from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays) and affordable rates. Choose from a variety of massage techniques, such as craniosacral therapy, deep tissue, full body, lymph drainage, myofascial release, neuromuscular therapy, Swedish, and trigger point, to relieve issues ranging from arthritis to depression to injury recuperation to muscle therapy. Same-day appointments are available, and they offer discounted memberships to qualified businesses as well as military, law enforcement and firefighter discounts.
MCMAHON & HADDER
Winner: Best Insurance Agency
We at the IN know what it’s like to have a small staff. It’s probably why we appreciate small, independent businesses that emerge as leaders in the community. The personal, commercial, and employee benefit insurance provider has always prided itself on being “proactive” in its services and has built a high level of trust with local and regional companies. Formed in 1999 with the merger of two of Pensacola’s prominent independent insurance agencies, the full-service, multi-line agency meets the insurance needs of over 5,000 businesses, individuals and families in Northwest Florida.
SACRED HEART HEALTH SYSTEM
Winner: Best Hospital
Top 3 Finish: Best Place to Work
Sacred Heart Hospital has been voted Best Hospital by IN readers for the fifth year in a row. More than 700 primary care and specialty physicians practice at Sacred Heart, and the hospital’s major services in Pensacola include: Sacred Heart Medical Group, the region’s largest network of physicians; 24-hour Emergency/Trauma Center; the area’s only Children’s Hospital; Sacred Heart Women’s Hospital; the region’s leading Stroke Center; Heart and Vascular Institute; a comprehensive Cancer Center; and centers of excellence in Women’s Services, Joint Replacement Surgery and Weight Loss Surgery. It looks like Sacred Heart’s employees are pretty impressed, too—the hospital was a top finisher in the Best Place to Work category.
SHELL FLEMING DAVIS & MENGE
Top 3 Finishes: Best Law Firm, Best Attorney (Charles Hoffman, Jr.)
Shell Fleming Davis & Menge formed in 1956 and has since built a reputation of integrity and trust for its legal work and dedication to the community. The firm, made up of 12 attorneys, holds the most distinguished designation that the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Registry offers. Its legal team has represented thousands of clients including banks, hospitals, developers and governments in a wide variety of practice areas, such as real estate, family law, wills, estates and taxes, corporate and intellectual property. In a time when the practice of law is increasing emphasis on the bottom line, Shell Fleming Davis & Menge is committed to meeting the needs of its clients in a professional, efficient and competent manner. Learn more about the firm at shellfleming.com.
SILVER SCREEN THEATRE
Top 3 Finish: Best Movie Theatre
IN readers have loved Escambia County’s only locally-owned and operated movie theatre since it opened in 1982. Almost three decades later, Silver Screen now offers four screens where you can watch recent releases, drink a beer or cocktail, and enjoy dinner at your very own table. Another perk? Matinees are only $4.50, while features starting after 6 p.m. are only $6.50.
STILL WATERS DAY & MEDICAL SPA
Winner: Best Day Spa, Best Facial
Top 3 Finishes: Best Massage, Best Nail Salon, Best Pedicure, Best Salon for Waxing, Best Skin Care Overall, Best Beauty Products
Still Waters, a Best of the Coast regular now for five years running, continually wows clients with its serene atmosphere, professional staff and indulgent spa services. In addition to traditional spa treatments—massages, facials, body treatments and wraps, make-up consultation and application, spray tanning, manicures and pedicures—Still Waters also offers a full spectrum of anti-aging and appearance enhancement options using the latest laser technology and state-of-the-art medical procedures. Medical spa treatments include VelaSmooth Cellulite Treatment, IPL, laser hair removal, and more. Spa owner Jeff Aanestad notes that the success of the business has come from the attention to details from its employees and the ability to listen to their clients. IN readers agree.
WEST FLORIDA HEALTHCARE
Top 3 Finish: Best Hospital
West Florida Healthcare is proud to offer the only local hospital featuring all private rooms. The West Florida campus also offers the area’s only comprehensive rehabilitation hospital and a mental health facility. Affiliated with HCA, the nation’s leading healthcare provider, West Florida provides services in cardiovascular surgery, oncology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, emergency care, behavioral health, obstetrics and many other medical specialties.
ARAGON WINE MARKET
Winner: Best Wine Shop, Best Wine Tastings
Owner Charlotte Gordon’s dream of creating a store that fits the customer’s needs has certainly been realized. For the second straight year, Aragon has been voted the Best Wine Shop. Offering a variety of specialty and exotic wines (including organic), catering to individual orders and suggestions, and offering wines at all price points has made the wine shop one of the area’s most loved local businesses. If you’d like to know more about certain wines or are just curious about the store, check out the store’s free wine tastings every Thursday from 5-7 p.m.
Top 3 Finish: Best Outdoor Apparel & Accessories
Intracoastal Outfitters provides men’s and women’s footwear and apparel for comfort, travel and outdoor adventure, with brands like Patagonia, The North Face, Keen, Merrell, Birkenstock, Naot, Clarks, Dansko, Vibram Five Fingers and many others. The store also offers accessories such as hats, sunglasses, leather wallets, casual bags and day packs, stainless steel water bottles, jewelry, and body care products. The experienced staff takes the time to find out exactly what customers need and fits them with the gear that makes the most sense. Whether you’re gearing up for hiking, kayaking, or just being outdoors, Intracoastal Outfitters has what you need. Go on—get outside.
LA MAISON D’ELODIE
Top 3 Finish: Best Antiques
Born and raised in France, owner Elodie Cardon was raised in the antiques business—her mother owned three stores in Lyon—and she was general manager and buyer for Kofski Antiques, a high end antique shop in Palm Beach, Fla., for five years. Following the devastation of Hurricane Ivan, Cardon formed Cardon Appraisals to help customers with their insurance claims. As an accredited member from the International Society of Appraisers, Cardon offers appraisals, home inventories for personal property for the purpose of insurance coverage, pre-move, divorce and estate division, donation, and damage claims.
In addition to her home inventory and appraisal business, Cardon’s antique and wine shop, La Maison d’Elodie, is an intimate boutique in the Old East Hill district where her customers can shop, learn and socialize. Cardon’s focus is on small, unusual furniture pieces and works from Europe that mix well with both antiques and contemporary lifestyles.
Winner: Best Gift Shop
Top 3 Finish: Best Place to Buy Children’s Gifts
Pizzaz has been a Best of the Coast regular for the last two years. However, their move to the Gulf Breeze Publix shopping center, expanded product lines, a retail space that’s more than quadrupled since their opening, and a loyal customer base have propelled them to the top spot in the Best Gift Shop category this year. The boutique has an eclectic selection of jewelry, books, fine dishes, home décor, game day gear, clothing and accessories at all price points, for anyone on your gift list.
Winner: Best Athletic Store
Top 3 Finish: Best Running Club
Running Wild owner Paul Epstein and the rest of the Running Wild staff understand the runner because they are runners. Not only does Running Wild offer high-quality performance shoes, apparel, and athletic accessories, the store and its employees also guide greater Pensacola-area runners and athletes (and wanna-be athletes) in their workout regimes, fitness goals, and more—whether they’re training for their first 5K or their fifth marathon.
THE FISH HOUSE/ATLAS OYSTER HOUSE/THE DECK
Winner: Best Restaurant Overall, Best Seafood Cuisine, Best Original Menu Item- Grits a Ya Ya, Best Brunch, Best Place to Eavesdrop, Best Looking Wait Staff, Best Place to Meet Friends After Work, Best Happy Hour, Best Ladies Night
Top 3 Finishes: Best Selection of Wine by the Bottle, Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests, Best Place to Work, Best Desserts, Best Gumbo, Best Appetizers, Best Lunch Spot, Best Original Menu, Best Outdoor Dining, Best Place for a Business Lunch, Best Place for a First Date, Best Place to Splurge, Best Wait Staff, Best Fish Sandwich, Best Salad, Best Po Boy, Best Place for a Birthday Dinner, Best Sushi, Best Bartender-Matt Rodriguez, Best Up-and-Coming Chef-Billy Ballou, Best Bar for Live Music, Best Bar to Hook Up, Best Bar to People Watch, Best Bar with a View, Best Drink Specials, Best Bar-Downtown Pensacola, Best Waitress-Greta Yates, Best Waiter-Jared Staples, Best Chef-Jim Shirley
With its relaxed environment and spectacular view of Pensacola Bay—not to mention Jim Shirley’s mouth-watering menu—it’s pretty easy to see why The Fish House and Atlas Oyster House are repeatedly Best of the Coast favorites.
The Deck provides live entertainment almost every night of the week and the bartenders make some of the best drinks in town. On Wednesdays, you don’t want to miss their Ladies’ Night. You can’t go wrong with this area favorite.
GENO’S PIZZA & ITALIAN RESTAURANT
Top 3 Finish: Best Restaurant-North Pensacola/Nine Mile/UWF
Geno’s has placed in Best of the Coast regularly over the years, and is proof that nice surprises come in little packages. This family restaurant opened in 1973 as a pizza parlor serving UWF students and the military personnel stationed at Ellyson Field. With its “mom and pop” atmosphere, friendly service and all your homey Italian favorites, this hidden gem near the UWF campus is well worth the trip for those of us in the south end of the county.
THE GLOBAL GRILL
Winner: Best Restaurant-Downtown Pensacola, Best Appetizers, Best Original Menu, Best Dessert-Gooey Chocolate Cake, Best Selection of Wine by the Glass, Best Waitress-Samantha Flood
Top 3 Finishes: Best Chef-Frank Taylor, Best Restaurant Overall, Best Soup, Best Place for a First Date, Best Place to Splurge, Best Romantic Dining, Best Selection of Wine by the Bottle, Best Way to Get “Cheese-y”-Mozzarella Egg Rolls, Best Wait Staff, Best Looking Wait Staff, Best Waiter-Tommy Ford
The Global Grill has long been known as one of Pensacola’s premier dining establishments, and its list of Best of the Coast awards has echoed that reputation. Jane and Frank Taylor go out of their way to make your dining experience memorable.
Global surrounds itself with a well-trained and hospitable staff and an eclectic dining room that features dim lighting, local art pieces and soothing live music. That’s not to mention the impeccable tapas, seafood and wine selection that make it a one-of-a-kind dining experience.
Winner: Best Steakhouse, Best Chef-Irv Miller, Best Place to Splurge, Best Wait Staff, Best Place for a Business Lunch, Best Place for a Birthday Dinner, Best Selection of Wine by the Bottle, Best Martini, Best Steak, Best Waiter-Wayne Prince
Top 3 Finishes: Best Restaurant Overall, Best Restaurant-Downtown Pensacola, Best Romantic Dining, Best Place to Eavesdrop, Best Bread, Best Desserts, Best Looking Wait Staff, Best Place for a First Date, Best Waitress-Amanda Phillips, Best Up-and-Coming Chef-Jason Perry, Best Bartender-Josh Goldman
It’s hard to pinpoint just why Jackson’s Steakhouse is so cherished by our readers because quite frankly, there are just too many great things to narrow down. The restaurant’s mission since it opened in 1998 has been to provide “great service and great food.”
Jackson’s executive chef Irv Miller has prepared dinner at James Beard’s house on more than one occasion. He also once wrote a weekly food column for the Independent News and broadcasted a 30-minute weekly PBS cooking show, both called “Flavors of the Coast.” He is the pioneer of Florida Coastal Cooking along the Panhandle.
HUNAN CHINESE RESTAURANT
Winner: Best Chinese Cuisine
When you think of good Chinese food in Pensacola, it doesn’t take long before Hunan comes to mind. It’s no surprise that it has won this category every year since 2002. Hunan’s buffet continues to satisfy IN readers with its more than 150 scrumptious dishes, including soups, noodles, sushi, chicken, seafood and beef options.
NEW YORK NICK’S
Winner: Best Restaurant for Sports Fanatics
Top 3 Finishes: Best Chicken Fingers, Best French Fries, Best Wings, Best Original Menu Item (Grilled Wings)
Palafox’s top sports bar has flat-screen TVs everywhere you turn—offering games and sports that nobody else carries, including lacrosse.
New York Nick’s food is better than other sports bars’ competition. The wings and sauces are made in-house and the Stoney sauce is heaven on anything it touches. We recommend the Best Damn Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and Char-grilled Wings. You won’t be sorry.
Top 3 Finish: Best Lunch Spot
Portabello is tucked away inside the cozy atrium of the Pensacola Cultural Center and caters to the downtown lunch crowd from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. with an array of unique entrees. Choose from delicious soups, salads, wraps and sandwiches, as well as pasta and seafood entrees prepared by award-winning chef Erika Thomas. An extensive fresh fruit and salad bar is available. Catering is also available.
WILL CALL SPORTS GRILLE
Winner: Best Up-and-Coming Chef-Jay Ammons
Top 3 Finishes: Best Cajun Cuisine, Best Happy Hour, Best Outdoor Dining, Best Place for a Business Lunch, Best Restaurant for Sports Fanatics, Best Sports Bar, Best Sports Team Club Headquarters
Jay Ammons is widely recognized as a “Master in the Making” with his quality, flavorful dishes. He is an excellent addition to the Will Call Sports Grille that has become a staple on Palafox Place.
CLASSIC CITY CATERING
Winner: Best Caterer, Best Wedding Caterer
Classic City Catering offers gourmet full-service catering and does everything from “BBQ to Black Tie.” They have an uncanny ability to anticipate customers’ needs and exceed expectations. Simply the best.
600 SOUTH WINE & TAPAS BAR/NEW WORLD LANDING
Winner: Best Bar Ambiance
Top 3 Finishes: Best Jazz/Blues Bar, Best Martini, Best Original Drink Menu, Best Selection of Wine By The Glass, Best Brunch, Best Boutique or Independent Hotel or Inn, Best Hotel-Not Pensacola Beach
Located in the heart of downtown Pensacola, 600 South offers delectable tapas prepared by renowned Chef Tony Wall, an extensive selection of wines that wow, a full bar, an inviting atmosphere, and a newly renovated outside bar and courtyard. Check out their Sunday Brunch menu as well. New World Inn offers guests an upscale but cozy place to enjoy the heart of downtown Pensacola, while their conference and meeting rooms host a variety of local seminars and special events.
HOPJACKS PIZZA KITCHEN AND TAPROOM
Winner: Best Selection of Beer on Tap, Best Original Drink Menu, Best Selection of Bottled Beer
Top 3 Finishes: Best Bar Where it Pays to be a Regular, Best Bar to People Watch, Best Bar-Downtown, Best Drink Specials, Best Place to Meet Friends After Work, Best Bar for Trivia
Where else can you go to sip an exotic beer, play bar trivia, listen to a band and sing karaoke, all in one night? Hopjacks delivers one of the more unique and hip atmospheres in Pensacola. Stocked with more than 150 beers—36 on tap—in a bar that spans much of the establishment, you’ll never get thirsty—or bored. While the bar selection is top notch, so is the pizza and their world famous fries. The best part of all is that they serve food ‘til the wee hours of the morning, just when those post-drinking munchies set in.
PARADISE BAR & GRILL
Winner: Best Bar-Pensacola Beach, Best Day Drinking
Top 3 Finishes: Best Hotel Bar, Best Margarita
There is no better place to sip on a margarita, kick off your shoes, and leave the world behind than the open, relaxed environment of Paradise Bar & Grill. It’s also a place where you can dock your boat, grab a bite to eat and let the kids play in the sand. Paradise has long been a favorite of locals, and this year IN readers have named it their favorite place to drink on Pensacola Beach—morning, noon or night.
SANDSHAKER LOUNGE & PACKAGE
Winner: Best Bushwacker
Top 3 Finishes: Best Bang for Your Buck-Heaviest Pour, Best Bar for Live Music, Best Bar Where it Pays to be a Regular, Best Bar-Pensacola Beach, Best Daiquiri, Best Day Drinking, Best Ladies Night, Best Shot-151 on Bushwacker, Best House Drink-Bushwacker
There’s no other bar on Pensacola Beach where you’ll find a more diverse crowd than the Sandshaker. The outside deck and observation tower complement the beach bum atmosphere for which this iconic bar has always been known. Grab a Bushwacker and enjoy the sun, live music, karaoke and other events throughout the week—and don’t forget the 151 shot.
Winner: Best Bar for Bingo, Best Bar for Live Music, Best Bar for Poker, Best Bar Overall, Best Bar to Hook Up, Best Bar to People Watch, Best College Hangout, Best Music Venue, Best Sports Team Headquarters
Top 3 Finishes: Best Bar for Getting Flat-Out Drunk, Best Bar-Downtown Pensacola, Best Cover Charge Worth Paying, Best Dark Corner for PDA, Best Drink Specials, Best Happy Hour, Best Karaoke Night, Best Place to Shake Your Stuff, Best Running Club (Seville Quarter Milers), Best Night Club
Since opening in 1967, Seville Quarter has been a staple of Pensacola nightlife. Originally owned by Bob Snow, the entertainment complex is now under the guidance of the Mitchell family. Seville Quarter is a jack-of-all-trades establishment, offering food, drinks and a variety of entertainment options.
From the dance club vibe of Phineas Phogg’s to the dueling piano show in Rosie O’Grady’s, Seville Quarter serves up every flavor of conceivable nightlife seven days a week. Sip a glass of wine at the Seville Gift Shoppe’s weekly Friday afternoon wine tastings, check out live music in Lili Marlene’s, End O’ The Alley Bar and Phineas Phogg’s, play Bar Bingo in Apple Annie’s Courtyard, satisfy your inner gamer at Gamer Nights in Fast Eddie’s, or just chill out at one of their seven bars.
Seville Quarter also hosts a slew of special events that bring in a variety of national and regional acts like Cowboy Mouth, The Molly Ringwalds, Finger Eleven, and Fly by Radio, among others. The complex is also the hub for the annual Emerald Coast Beer Festival and other local fundraising events that impact hundreds of businesses and non-profits throughout our community.
The great thing about Seville is its ability to please everyone, so it’s no wonder they’ve wooed IN Best of the Coast voters once again. Buck, keep the good times rollin’.